Helping Mummy

Today I had great big pile of folding to do. G does the washing and some of the folding, but not the nappies because he hates it and because I am so good at it. Indeed, I think I fold three to his one and when on a roll, I enjoy it, in a neurotic order making sort of way. Grace is fascinated by nearly everything we do, especially when it has to do with her things, her dirty washing which ends up all over the house and her nappies. Sometimes she tries to help me with the folding.

Which although very charming is sometimes not all that helpful, if I ever want to finish the task at hand. I fold, she pulls onto the floor. Turning it into a sisyphean task, but in an absurd way. Almost funny even. Today I just wanted to get it done and G took Grace outside to play in the garden, no doubt feeling a little guilty that these tasks hadn't been done during the week while he was at home and I was at work. It could also be that he is over this particular guilt, as really he is more than pulling his weight domestically at this point. Anyway, we're calling it fair.

Still, I don't want to exclude Grace from the workings of the house. I used to love folding washing with my mother. I still fold towels the way she showed me. And we would chat as the tangled mess of washing was turned into neat pile to be put away. Even as a child that appealed to my sense of order.

Secret life of a towel

Once upon a time there was a towel, let's call him Terry, who was tired of being washed and hung on the line to dry. "Soap made him sneeze, hot water made him limp, the spin dryer made him dizzy and the pegs pinched him." So he ran away.
He made friends with the wind, who generally showed him a good time. He met farm animals and frightened children in the woods into thinking he was a ghost, chasing them all the way home. It all went bad when he told off by an owl and savaged by the children's dog. Then he was discovered all covered in dirt and somewhat worse for wear by the children's' mother, who of course put him through the wash again. Bad naughty towel. Back on the line he decided he had a fabulous time but, "that being soft, and clean, and fluffy, wasn't so bad after all.... then he was folded and put away in a warm cupboard - a cleaner, wiser towel."
From Anytime Storytime Tales, illustrations by Eric Kincaid. Brimax Books UK 1979. Another gem from the opshop, especially the black and white drawings. There is no mention of who wrote the text.

Peg dude

Following a tip off from Susoz last month, I bought an unfamiliar washing powder, just for the peg inside. Opening the box, my nostrils were hit with a chemical grit as I felt around for the submerged prize inside. Like looking for a cereal toy, only sharper on the senses.

I'm so bad at dissolving washing powder or remembering that it has to go in the washing machine before the clothes, that I've been using liquid for a very long time. A liquid that doesn't smell like much. We've been using the powder now for several washes and it has a certain smell. It catches me unawares as I fold the nappies or put on a clean t-shirt. Not a bad smell, kind of like chemical sunshine or something. I'm guessing by the package that sunshine is what the manufacturers intended.
It also looks as though they are trying to make laundry look fun or even cool, dude. There are tips for those new to the world of washing their own clothes and asides or jokes to those who aren't. All very jolly. Not my demographic at all. Although I might buy this brand again if the peg people were an ongoing deal. I visited the website on the top of the box but am obviously too late for the peg people games.
Is it just me, or does peg dude look a little rude sitting on the line, hands on hips with a big smile?

Mr Helpalot

The other day at a family lunch, the subject of Mrs Washalot came up in conversation. I have been chided for presenting a one sided portrait of domestic labour in our household. So I'd like to introduce you to Mr Helpalot.

Mr Helpalot is very good at all of the following laundry tasks: putting the washing on, hanging it up, bringing it in, changing nappies, doing scrapings (Mrs Washalot might be quite good at avoiding that one where she can). Mrs Washalot is the queen of: folding, putting away, advanced stain removal, the washing of delicates, extracurricular washing like blankets and the like. She has decided that she doesn't mind doing the nappy folding and any ironing because Mr Helpalot has a recently fed and freshly bathed child ready to greet mummy when she returns from her long day at work followed by the gym (which he encourages), and he makes dinner while they play together. This has been especially nice when her two days have involved a rather long temporary commute (no gym on those days... argh).

Mr Helpalot is also very good at sundry other domestic tasks, including but not limited to: washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom and toilet, mowing the grass, taking the rubbish out, vacuuming and mopping (while the ladies go grocery shopping togther, oh the fun never stops around here I tell you), feeding the cat(s), cleaning out the fridge and microwave and disposing of half chewed rodents. You would think that this would mean that Mrs Washalot had endless time to read trashy novels, play in her garden, sew clever crafty items, hang out with the child and write her blogs. If only. But living is work. On this they agree. Mrs Washalot thinks she is very lucky to share her life and all the work it involves with Mr Helpalot.

Washing: with two kinds of jasmine

A view of the washing line from the side path, under the jasmine arch. With an avocado seedling in the foreground.
It is lovely hanging out the washing on soft spring mornings.

Birds are singing

I've come to really like this book, Crashing and Splashing by Alison Lester (Viking Kestrel, 1989). I think mum or G picked it up from the op shop a couple of months ago. When I'm in town, I often look for board books that might a)reflect Grace's life and b) have some literary and artistic merit. And it surprises me how many baby books are just plain ugly or have obvious grammatical errors.

This book is not of the style I would automatically go for, but it has grown on me. The text is simple and precise. I find the scenes from a slightly shambolic household, with an undeniably Australian aesthetic, quite endearing. We're not talking kangaroos and such here, but ordinary things like a dad and daughter kicking a football, a little one playing with the pots and pans, kids in the scrud in the back yard playing with the hose (what a pity water restrictions will rule that one out for Grace and her little mates) and a lovely backyard with a hydrangeas, snaking garden hose, kookaburras and a hills hoist with napppies on it.
I also really like that there are no pictures of the mother doing the housework. She's happily sitting on the phone talking while the kids and cat do their own thing nearby. It could just as easily been dad who put the washing on and hung it out. Maybe they even did it together.

Shiny happy

It is a joy to be out in the morning before or after breakfast, hanging a load of nappies. If we are both home, we sometimes argue about who gets to do this job. Pleasure that also gets you housework points. Grace will play world cup soccer under the Hills Hoist with her pink ball while you work. For someone who doesn't really stand yet she has a pretty good kick. Then the garden distracts. It is all so easy to be sunny and happy with such blue skies.

By the end of the day, the nappies are crispy dry, smelling of sunshine. I'm not so keen on bringing the nappies in because that means sorting, shaking out the spiders, mites and blossom skeletons, folding and putting away. So I leave that bit for the next day. But I'm always in a rush bringing the washing in because there's a million and one other things to do.